Thanks for coming back. I thought maybe I had bored you with my "duh" conclusions from the last post, but I'm glad to know that I haven't permanently scared you off.
I am trying something new to plan meals, whittle away at the food budget, and try to stash away a little bit here and there for family fun.
I'll call it "10 Days Of Meals." It comes with a set of rules (and exceptions), but I'm pretty excited about it because it works for us, it's flexible, and so far we haven't gone hungry.
It goes like this: I read somewhere that one way to work within a food budget is to limit the number of times you go to the grocery store. I've historically gone every week, or when we need something. But now, I only allow myself to go on the 10th, 20th, and 30th of the month. That's my first rule: no in-between trips. If we run out of tomatoes, well shoot, we're out of tomatoes. Substitute the canned stuff, or find something tomato-less to make. (The first rule comes with the first exception: Get milk whenever it's needed. But that's it. Just milk.)
The second rule says to bring a calculator (and look like a nerd). Yes, I'm that mom with the calculator. I know exactly what the cashier is going to ring me up for. I know whether or not I can get the store brand of chips or the pretty brand. The difference between $90 and $100 is significant if that extra $10 means a fun family activity or not.
The third rule requires strict adherence to the list which means ... make a list. And stick to it. Always. (Second exception: don't stick to the list if you come in under budget and you see fresh baked goods.)
And the final rule, which actually precludes all the other rules, is to plan 10 days' worth of meals before making a list.
I'll tell you tomorrow how I came up with 10 days' worth of meals that is (in my opinion) flexible, versatile (I'm not one to want to eat spaghetti and meatballs every Tuesday), and frugal. Check back ...